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Things To Do In Rapid City, South Dakota With Kids

Things To Do In Rapid City South Dakota With Kids

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Rapid City, South Dakota is home to a variety of museums, monuments, national parks, and delicious restaurants. Rapid City is a popular destination choice for families with kids, due to the amount of things to do! We spent 4 days total and really enjoyed ourselves.

Things To Do In Rapid City, South Dakota With Kids

Best Time To Travel To Rapid City With Kids

Summer is the most popular time to visit Rapid City. The weather is beautiful in the summer months, making it a popular destination for families looking for a great adventure.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, spring, fall and winter may be a better choice for you. However, keep in mind that some attractions may be limited in their hours, or even closed.

How To Get To Rapid City With Kids

We flew to Rapid City from Los Angeles, however if you are driving distance, definitely take advantage of that.

Planning a trip and wondering how to get affordable flights? Then click the links below to read exactly how I am able to get flight deals, save on flights and more.

Things To Do In Rapid City South Dakota With Kids

How To Get Around Rapid City With Kids

There is no public transportation in Rapid City. You will most likely want to rent a car while you’re visiting Rapid City with kids (unless of course, you are close enough to drive in yourself!) to make your way around.

Where To Stay in Rapid City With Kids

If you’re planning your trip to Rapid City with kids for more than one day, there are plenty of options here to accommodate families. Whether you want to stay in the heart of downtown, or a little more on the outskirts of the Black Hills, you are sure to find something! 

Best Neighborhoods in Rapid City With Kids

Maybe you’re not looking to stay right in the heart of downtown Rapid City. Some of the most popular areas for tourists in this area are: Custer, Hill City, Mount Rushmore, and Deadwood.

Any of these areas will put you within reasonable driving distance to the popular attractions in Rapid City.

Family Friendly Hotels in Rapid City With Kids

  • Residence Inn, Rapid City: This property offers studio and suite rooms, and is the newest Marriott hotel in the Black Hills. Not only do they include a complimentary breakfast, but you also get 2 Reptile Gardens passes when you check in! This is where we stayed in Rapid City with kids and loved it.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites, Rapid City: Staying at this hotel allows you access to South Dakota’s largest indoor water park! Be sure to put some time aside in your itinerary to let the kids enjoy the WaTiki water park!
  • Powder House, Keystone: This seasonal motel is only miles from Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park! For intimate family time, consider staying in these rustic cabins. There is also a heated outdoor pool, a playground, and a restaurant on site.

Things To Do in Rapid City With Kids

Rapid City is a must see for people of all ages, and there really is something everyone can enjoy. Here are some of the best things to do in Rapid City with kids that will help foster creativity, exploration, and a love for nature.

Big Thunder Gold Mine

This gold mine is located just thirty minutes from the heart of Rapid City, and well worth checking out. 

Big Thunder Gold Mine takes you back in time to the 1890’s by offering mine tours, on‒site gold panning, and claim panning. Your kids can delve into history by learning all about gold mining, while also being able to be hands on as they pan for real gold!

Big Thunder Gold Mine | Things To Do In Rapid City South Dakota With Kids

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

This memorial is probably what first comes to mind when you think of South Dakota. It is located in the Black Hills, just miles outside Rapid City.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Memorial is open seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. all year long, with the exception of December 25th. They even illuminate the sculpture every day from sunset to 11 p.m., so be sure to stick around for that if you can. 

Custer State Park

If your family loves exploring the outdoors, Custer State Park is for you. This state park has over 71,000 acres of land to explore in the Black Hills. 

Custer State Park offers:

  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hiking
  • Historical Interest

With little to no effort, you will find a number of things to do at this park, whether you plan to stay for a day, or a whole week.

Needles Eye Highway

While here make sure to check out Needles Eye Highway as well, just a short drive from Custer State Park. Technically it’s connected to the park. Just make sure you don’t leave the park without stopping here first. It’s really cool!

Wall Drug

Wall Drug started as a pit stop for tourists with a promise of free water back in the 1930’s, and now offers a wide range of family friendly activities, shopping, and dining options. Be sure to enjoy one of their famous homemade donuts while you’re there in Rapid City with kids!

Wall Drug donuts

Badlands National Park

The whole family will enjoy a day at Badlands National Park. This National Park is home to a number of species of wildlife, breathtaking views, and a unique landscape. 

Badlands supports the National Park Foundation, which provides engagement and learning opportunities for kids throughout the park. Enjoy observing wildlife behaviors, identifying plants and animals, or embracing the natural beauty of the land. With over 244,000 acres, the opportunities here are endless.

Dinosaur Park

Located in the heart of Rapid City, Dinosaur Park provides the opportunity to see life sized dinosaurs! 

This stop is particularly great if you are traveling with toddlers or kids of any age really. Let them stretch their legs along the ridge, while they dive deep into their imagination to see what it must have been like to live among the dinosaurs.

Here you can learn about the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous dinosaurs that have actually been found on the ridge of the Black Hills. This is a great place to visit in Rapid City with kids.

Bear Country USA

Bear Country USA offers a unique experience, where you can drive (and walk!) through their wildlife park and view a variety of animals in their natural environment. 

Bear Country USA | Things To Do In Rapid City South Dakota With Kids

Here you will see everything from beavers and porcupines, to elk and black bears! Animals who are too young to be introduced into the drive through exhibit are kept in the Wildlife Walk area, which is also accessible to all guests. 

Reptile Gardens

The whole family will enjoy this attraction, which made the Guinness World Record for the largest reptile zoo! They have over 225 different species of reptiles to see here, but that’s not all they offer. 

Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens is also known for its giant sky dome, reptile‒themed playground, and many botanical gardens. This zoo is open from March 5th to November 30th every year and we loved visiting while in Rapid City with kids.

Art Work

There’s lots of great art work in downtown Rapid City with kids. You can check out Art Alley as well as multiple statues all over that have a story. We loved checking them out.

Crazy Horse Memorial

This monument isn’t actually finished yet, but it’s a breathtaking work in progress. The Crazy Horse sculpture is being carved on South Dakota’s 27th biggest mountain in the heart of the Black Hills at 6,532 feet above sea level! 

Crazy Horse Memorial

The construction of the Crazy Horse Monument is supporting the foundation’s mission to protect the heritage and culture of the Native American Indians. 

Rainy Day & Indoor Attractions In Rapid City With Kids

The Journey Museum

The whole family can enjoy going on a journey of evolution as they step into this museum. You will learn about life as it was when the dinosaurs walked the Earth, and how we evolved into who we are today by looking at the history of our species.

The Journey Museum is open year round from Thursday to Sunday and is a great place to visit in South Dakota with kids. Tickets range from $9 to $14, and children 5 and under are free!

Prairie Edge and Sioux Trading Post

If you are looking for a great local shopping experience, look no further. Prairie Edge and Sioux Trading Post has a variety of handmade goods for sale. 

They are unique in that they appreciate the Native American heritage, and their goods are created by Northern Plain Indian artists. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in this heritage, all while taking the afternoon to do some shopping for some handmade goods. 

Wind Cave National Park / Jewel Cave National Monument

Take a once in a lifetime experience in one or both of these underground caves. Due to the complexity of these caves, both locations offer guided tours. The caves are some of the most unique places to visit if you are in the Rapid City area with kids.

Museum at Black Hills Institute

This natural history museum has something for everyone. Here you will see dinosaurs, unique fossils, minerals and artifacts from all over the world. Children 5 and under enter for free!

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

Learn all about the history of aviation in South Dakota with kids. This indoor and outdoor museum features over 30 unique aircrafts!  They are located just outside of Rapid City, and admission is free.

Where To Eat In Rapid City With Kids

Most people prefer to try the best local restaurants when they’re visiting a new city for the first time. If you are looking to try some restaurants that you can’t find at home, check out these places to eat with kids.

Best Restaurants In Rapid City

  • Carver’s Cafe
  • Skogen Kitchen
  • Que Pasa Cantina
  • Black Hills Bagels
  • Pacific Rim Cafe
  • Bokujō Ramen
  • Dakota Steakhouse
  • A&D Jamaican Restaurant
  • Colonial House Restaurant & Bar

Best Coffee Shops In Rapid City

  • Harriet & Oak
  • Essence Of Coffee
  • Dunn Brothers Coffee
  • Pure Bean Coffeehouse

Tips For Visiting Rapid City With Kids For The First Time

Whether you’re visiting Rapid City for a day or a week, or somewhere in between, take time to plan all the places that are most important for you to see. There is so much to do here, so think about what is most realistic for you and your family as you plan your getaway.

Do you prefer places with guided tours? Do you want to try to incorporate some indoor activities? These are just a few things to think of.

Tips For Visiting Rapid City With Kids For The First Time

Sample 4 Day Rapid City With Kids Itinerary

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things there are to do here. Here is a sample itinerary that breaks these activities down for you in an easy to follow schedule.

Day 1

Rapid City With Kids

  • Breakfast at Harriet & Oak
  • Big Thunder Gold Mine
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Lunch at Carver’s Cafe at the Memorial
  • Custer State Park
  • Crazy Horse Memorial (if you don’t have time, then visit this on your 4th day)
  • Dinner at Skogen Kitchen

Day 2

Rapid City With Kids

  • Breakfast at Dunn Brothers Coffee
  • Wall Drug
  • Badlands National Park
  • Dinner at Que Pasa Cantina
  • Dessert at Armadillos Ice Cream Shoppe

Day 3

Rapid City With Kids

  • Breakfast at Black Hills Bagels
  • Dinosaur Park
  • Bear Country USA
  • Lunch at Colonial House Restaurant & Bar
  • Reptile Gardens
  • Dinner at Bokujō Ramen

Overall Thoughts On Rapid City With Kids

There are so many things to do in Rapid City, South Dakota with kids! Whether you are looking for outdoor or indoor activities the whole family can enjoy, Rapid City has it all.

Dive deep into the rich history of the area by visiting monuments, museums, and shopping centers, or take time to sit back and channel your inner nature lover in one of the many national or state parks!

No matter your age, every member of the family can find something that sparks creativity, exploration, and a love for the outdoors in Rapid City.

Tips & Tricks For Booking An Affordable Family Vacation
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Activities / Excursions
  • Rental Cars
  • Cruise
  • Travel Insurance
    • Purchase must have travel insurance through Allianz
  • Looking to save even more money when you travel? Visit my Travel Resources page to see all the reliable and trustworthy brands that I use to book my travel with. I only recommend brands that I’ve used and can vouch for, so you’re in good hands!
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